American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center (AIOIC) recently participated as a service provider at the Hennepin County Project Homeless Connect. On April 28, over 1,300 volunteers assisted nearly 3,000 guests in accessing the services they need. American Indian OIC ran a table in the employment area.
Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a national best practice model that originated in San Francisco in October 2004. PHC is now implemented in 106 cities across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia.
Each PHC event is designed to provide a one-stop service center for our neighbors struggling with homelessness. Services include medical, mental health, substance abuse, housing, education and employment, dental, legal aid, benefits, veterans support, state ID, food, clothing, and more.
The mission of American Indian OIC fits well with Hennepin County Project Homeless Connect. AIOIC works to empower American Indians to pursue career opportunities by providing individualized education, training, and employment services in a culturally rich environment.
Andrea Jourdain (Red Lake) supervised the AIOIC table. She presented information and answered questions about training and career building. One guest, who stopped to ask about opportunities in business, said he wanted a job and he’d heard good things about the training at AIOIC. Jourdain gave him information about courses in small business ownership, customer service, and human services. There are also courses in administrative medical service, administrative assistant, nursing assistant, medication aide, and emergency medical technician.
Jourdain said American Indian OIC had recently opened its Career Development Center to the public. She encouraged guests to stop at the center for current job postings, internet access, and computers for creating resumes and cover letters.
AIOIC also has a program for American Indian women called In-an-da’-we, an Ojibwe word meaning “to climb to higher ground.” It provides support for the specific needs of urban American Indian women who are journeying from instability to self-sufficiency.
Project Homeless Connect depends on such service providers, who take the time to participate and reach out to homeless clients. The day is busy, but the centralized services and on-site referrals allow homeless and low-income guests to find the assistance they need. Hundreds of volunteer guides are trained and available to help guests locate the appropriate resources.
American Indian OIC shared the employment area with organizations like Goodwill Easter Seals and People Serving People, which also provide training and job assistance. AIOIC believes education and employment are the gateway to freedom from poverty and a better quality of life. AIOIC asks that all applicants successfully complete a placement test, which is offered Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. (1845 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis).
Hennepin County held the first of their PHC events in December 2005 at the Basilica of St. Mary. It was a tremendous success, leading to second and third events in March and December 2006 at the Convention Center.
Ramsey County also organizes a Project Homeless Connect, which began in 2006 at the St. Paul Armory. The third event will happen in June at the RiverCenter in downtown St. Paul. The City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the St. Paul Police coordinate the event.